Our house (a letter to my grandfather)

I went to the old house today. For you it was the last house.
I went down into the kitchen garden. It was a tangle, overgrown, and gone to weeds.
The pony shed was falling into ruin. You used to leave your muddied boots out there. They were gone of course.
The pear and apple trees still bare fruit.
The plums look especially good this year.
The rooks still nested in the poplar trees.
I went back in, to the kitchen and the remembered scent of lavender and yeast.
Our big table was gone. Everything was gone. All changed. Modernised beyond repair.
I didn’t venture on the attics stair.
That would have been too much for even me to bear.
Too dark. Too old. Too empty.
No laughter echoed anywhere. Only in my memory.
Old songs. Piano keys. The paintings missing from the hall.
I thought 0f Rumpelstiltskin and naive Goldilocks.
Your versions were so good. Funny and irreverent.
Clouds still passed the window where you told those tales.
The trees still moved in the wind, their branches bouncing up and down.
My life has wandered on. I don’t have the money to buy a house like this.
I sometimes wonder if I might return here on my last breath.
Today I was an intruder for a while.
I left through the side door beside the servants’ stairs.
No-one saw me. No-one cares.
I won’t go again there,
except at night, in dreams.

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A Book Illustration

Rebecca Troyer has illustrated one of my poems (the copyright is hers)

 

In the Fairy Garden by Rebecca Troyer

Isn’t that just lovely ! Here is the poem

The Faerie Garden 

 

Its windows blown by wind and rain,

down the lanes where no-one came,

an ancient ruined cottage stood

with tumbled walls, close by the wood.

 

The cottage garden growing wild

with warring flowers unreconciled

was all a tangle, intertwined,

with paths and borders undefined

 

Columbine closed up the doors,

Ivy crept across the floors.

The roses grew all over-blown

Claiming all the walls their own.

 

Delphiniums, for summer skies,

near the solemn peonies rise.

Hollyhock o’er-towers them all

and Jasmin scents the evenings fall.

 

In this riotous throng of flowers

the faeries come to spend their hours.

They crown themselves with daisy chains

as sunlight spreads its last remains.

 

As evening falls they make their way

with gentle steps at close of day

to the bed they much prefer

beneath the sleepy lavender.

 

The First Monday

The teddy bear is home alone until tonight
An eternity of days spreads out ahead
The garden is forbidden until evening
The time for growing up has just begun
It’s time to say goodbye to childish things
The world is new defined and fenced about
The satchel, stuffed, sits heavy on the floor
Sharp pointed pencils and a clean eraser
The ruler for the measuring of lines
The uniform hangs new and pressed against the door
Faint excitement evaporates in dread
A sickening thought sinks into an empty stomach
The Monday morning sun has just arrived

 

 

 

Miss Smith

in every story book I read
the wise old witch was her
with cheeks like polished apples red
and apron freshly pressed

she smelled of wholesome new baked bread
pickles, jams and herbs
she kept a feathered fleet of hens
beside the well-worn lane

her hat pulled firmly on her head
she wandered down there day and night
in her fathers tattered coat
and big black rubber boots

the neighbours thought her rather odd
but I knew she was kind and good
she gave me Homers Odyssey
and well-worn fairy tales

when I was grown I went back there
to knock upon her door again, no-one came,
no neighbours knew her by her name
the world was not the same

no scent of lavender survives
in ancient drawers of cedar lined
the stove is cold, the windows barred
by swathes of ivy, deep entwined

the hens have gone, no cockerels crow
the hinge hangs rusted on her gate
that leads out to the muddied road
deep rutted by forgotten wheels

the rooks have flown the distant trees
no magpies squawks in mockery
the nettles grow in clusters wild
defense against a vanished child

The House

eight years old
i stood and stared at the floor,
a mosaic pattern
of intertwined flowers,
the pattern always there,
leaning my back against the cold wall
as mirror, clock and chair
and box after box
went out of the open door

where laughter had echoed before
i heard the wind sigh in the rafters
and the creak of the wood on the stair
there was nothing but empty rooms

the flowers drooped their heads in the garden
as i did, in despair, in the hallway
at a death that had come to soon
i saw no adventure ahead
nothing remained
nothing bloomed
after the gardener was dead

Late Fairytale

a loom stands in the corner
the work left incomplete
slippers beside the fire, grown cold
missing the warmth of her feet

this place is full of cobwebs and dust
a broom leans by the wall, forgotten
an emerald bowl holds trinkets, jumbled
does anyone live here at all?

the garden is wild and overgrown
the birds, left unfed, have all flown away
the pool by the fountain is empty and dry
where children used to play

the faeries who hid away in the rain
will return with the nightingale

Tree of Hope

The bird baths all are cracked
by winters biting frosts.
I heard the blackbirds song,
a memory of water,
fluid in the air.
It seemed a sad reflection
of a sorry state of health.
The coldest days were long.
Everything seemed lost.
The paths were overgrown
with plants all running wild,
strangling and tangling
the roses, overblown,
spoiled by slow neglect,
in a garden once so loved.

Summer brought destruction,
smothering, spreading, fast.
A time of choice had come,
to recover all its glory
or let it go at last.
I would not be daunted.
The days were flying past.

All had been so lovely
in lazy days before,
those days so softly haunted
with thoughts of gardeners gone.
In sad remembrance of them
I set about the work.
I cleared the well worn paths,
discovered them anew.
Where the brambles barred me
I tirelessly pushed through.
Putting down my tools
I turned to go inside
to take a well earned rest.

It was then I saw the gift.
The garden had been blessed.
In a place I would have chosen,
beside a golden rose,
a single seed had fallen
planted by a bird.
A sign of new beginnings.
changing with the seasons,
uplifting tender leaves
to a future that’s begun.

Now in this sheltered garden
there grows a graceful Birch.
The silver of the winter
reaches for the sun.

The Choice is Pyramids or Circles

the pyramids of greed and power
became our masters long ago
they took the land away from us
and fenced the common pastures
while we were tired and sleeping

are we sleeping still?
we walk on ice above the fires
we hover on a precipice
bind-folded by the wrong desires
our better hopes defeated

how did we come to this?
the storm brings rain to fill the rivers
we complain of changing weathers
we take for granted natures gifts
making wanton use of treasures

every creature great and small
brings blessings to the earth
while we destroy and poison all
how can we be so foolish?
we are earth’s most useless creatures

we will come to understand, too late,
the damage we have done ourselves
in breaking natures circle
we will recognise our awful fate
when we reap the final harvest

join the circle, strong, complete
to guard and bless the garden
there is no greater purpose
the only promised land we have
is here beneath our feet

In the Garden

I lost you,

somewhere in the garden,

where a path took a turn

downhill.

 

There’s a tangle of roses entwined.

Some of them have dark thorns

that cling to your skirts

as you pass.

 

The paths are a tangle, a puzzle,

twisted around like a rope.

I can’t  undo or decipher them

but I heard a distant sound,

amongst all the songs of the birds,

the gentle play of a fountain.

I need to slake my thirst.

 

I am sure I will find you there.

I met you once by a river.

By water I’ll meet you again

 

 

My Obsessions

this is a found poem – it comes from my tag cloud on this blog and so it consists of words I use a lot in poems……….

*********************

My Obsessions.

 

Ancient bards and books,
a breeze full of butterflies
above the Celtic hills.
Cities, clouds, the dance of death,
a desert dragons dream,
dreaming dreams with evening eyes
of fateful fantasy and fire
with firelight in the forest garden
where a girl with a haiku
plays a harp and sings
of heart and home and horses.

Imagination kindles lakes,
leaves, land and love,
love, always love,
magic memories of moons
moonlight, morning music.

At night, the oak overshadows
oceans of passion
paths of peace and perfume,
poems of rain and ravens,
the rocks, the river,
roses by the sea.
The sky a silver smile
when the snows come,
then the song of spring,
sunlight and starlight.

Time towers above the trees.
The wings of winter spread again
above a woodland made of words